Week 27 (DSI Building)


Art, Architecture and Design

This article spotlights a particular building or some other aspect of Columbus design. I welcome your comments, corrections and additions. Please share your experience and perceptions of these uniquely Columbus projects.

DSI Building

  • Built: 1980
  • Address: 2920 Tenth Street (corner of 10th and McClure)
  • Design Architect: Frank Adams Jr. (Frank Adams Jr. & Associates – Columbus, Indiana)
  • General Contractor: Repp & Mundt (Columbus, Indiana)

Developmental Services, Inc. (DSI) is a non-profit agency established in 1975 to help children and adults with mental, physical, and emotional disabilities achieve their maximum potential in home, work and community settings. DSI provides early intervention services, job training, job placement, independent and group living, life skills training, respite care and family support. DSI currently provides service to individuals in 30 counties in Indiana.

The local organization was providing services from several smaller buildings and it was decided to build a new state of the art training and services center. Columbus architect Frank Adams Jr. was chosen to design the new structure. It was meant to make a statement: that services to the handicapped and developmentally disabled were important to the community and that they should be highly visible. This was one of the first comprehensive centers of its type in the State of Indiana.

Adams designed a large 58,000 square foot white building surrounded by an earth berm. The building was constructed for maximum use of space with flexibility for future program changes. In what was seen in most Frank Adams Jr. buildings it was designed to be highly energy efficient. The ground was sloped halfway up the side of the building to stop heat loss and all the walls were fully insulated. The space was divided into 5 heating/cooling zones which could be individually controlled.

The building is divided into 2 parts: DSI’s 5-county regional office taking up 20% of the space with the sheltered workshops and multi-purpose areas using the rest. A large multi-purpose room serves as a cafeteria, meeting room and physical education center. Training and diagnostic areas feature sliding walls that can convert a larger room into 2 or 3 smaller areas. The large workshop area that is used by clients and trainees to perform subcontract work for local companies was designed as a flexible space and meant to resemble an actual industrial facility. They wanted clients and trainees to feel as if they were working in a “real” industrial setting.

Front left corner
(photo by Ricky Berkey)

Front left corner
(photo by Ricky Berkey)

Front left corner
(photo by Ricky Berkey)

Front main entrance
(photo by Ricky Berkey)

Sleek and modern industrial look
(photo by Ricky Berkey)

Building is slightly cantilevered over the foundation
(photo by Ricky Berkey)

Front view
(photo by Ricky Berkey)

Front view from the right
(photo by Ricky Berkey)

View of the front from the right side
(photo by Ricky Berkey)

Loading area in the rear
(photo by Ricky Berkey)

Rear entrances
(photo by Ricky Berkey)

Side of building
(photo by Ricky Berkey)

The Architect

Frank Adams Jr.

  • Born on born March 24, 1940 in New Albany, Indiana
  • Miami University – Oxford, Ohio (1963)
  • Died August 28, 2003

Frank M. Adams Jr. was a prolific Columbus architect who designed a wide range of local and regional buildings, renovations and additions along with many residential projects. Frank began his career as architect and project manager for the Design-Build Division of Dunlap construction in 1966. He also worked with architect Bruce Adams on a number of projects. He founded his own firm as Frank Adams Jr. & Associates in 1976. He added a Bloomington, Indiana office in 1988.

He and his wife Susan Prather Adams died tragically on August 28th, 2003 in a highway crash on I-75 near Gaylord, Michigan. They were headed for Macinaw Island to celebrate their 34th wedding anniversary. He was 63, She was 59. Susan Adams was a native of Columbus. She was an elementary schoolteacher, an active member of the Bartholomew County Historical Society and a Columbus Visitors Center Tour Guide. They were both very active in all facets of the Columbus community are missed greatly.

Selected Frank Adams Jr. Projects

Columbus Municipal Airport Terminal – Columbus, Indiana (1983)

Columbus City Utilities Building – Columbus, Indiana

DSI Center – Columbus, Indiana (1980)

227 Washington (historic restoration) – Columbus, Indiana

North Salem United Methodist Church – Nashville, Indiana

Fairlawn Presbyterian Church – Columbus, Indiana

Kelley Student Center at Indiana University, Kokomo – Kokomo, Indiana

Library and Gallery at Indiana University, Kokomo – Kokomo, Indiana

Knobview Hall at Indiana University, Southeast – New Albany, Indiana

Paul W. Ogle Cultural & Community Center at Indiana University, Southeast – New Albany, Indiana

Helen G. Simon Hillel Center at Indiana University – Bloomington, Indiana

Crescent Area (restoration/renovation) at Indiana University – Bloomington, Indiana

IUPUC Columbus (renovation of former Air Force Building) – Columbus, Indiana (1985)

National Guard Armory – Columbus, Indiana (1978)

Greenbelt Golf Course Pro Shop – Columbus, Indiana

Tipton Lakes Athletic Club – Columbus, Indiana

AAA building – Columbus, Indiana

Garland Brook Cemetery Office and Mausoleum – Columbus, Indiana

Johnson Oil office – Columbus, Indiana

Tipton Lakes Bridge – Columbus, Indiana

Ramada Inn – Columbus, Indiana

Indiana Professional Golf Association HQ at the Legends of Indiana Golf Course – Franklin, Indiana

Dozens of local homes


Columbus Area Visitors Center

City of Columbus: official City of Columbus website

Columbus Indiana Architectural Archives

Columbus Indiana Architecture Digital Archives: A small portion of the Columbus Indiana Architectural Archives available online from the IUPUI digital library

3D Models of Columbus Architecture Executed in Google SketchUp:

The Republic Newspaper – Columbus, Indiana newspaper

Bartholomew County Public Library

Historic Columbus Website – David Sechrest’s tribute to Columbus History

Historic Columbus Message Board – a companion interactive forum to the David Sechrest historical website

Bartholomew County Historical Society

Columbus Area Arts Council

Click HERE for a Calendar of Upcoming Events in the Columbus Area.

Click HERE for information about Tours of Columbus Architecture and Design including the Miller House.

Ricky Berkey

Email me: rickyberkey@gmail.com

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